News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, October 31, 2019
Adams School parents vie for school board seat

by Monique Labbe

Two individuals with direct ties to Adams School will be on the November 5 ballot as candidates for an open seat on the Castine School Board.

The seat is currently occupied by Alyssa Radcliff, who is not running for another term.

Kelly Gualtieri

Kelly Gualtieri is the mother of a student at Adams School. Now in her fourth year as an employee of Maine Maritime Academy, she said she has more flexibility in her schedule to give back to her community.

“When we were living in New York, I had the honor of being on the School Leadership Team, a voted position for both my son in high school at the beginning of the Common Core implantation and for my daughter for two years,” said Gualtieri. “This school board position is similar in the functions and duties except on a much smaller scale.”

Gualtieri has been working in education since her college years, which, she said, makes her a suitable candidate for the job. Her previous School Leadership Team positions align closely with duties of a member of the school board except that she was responsible for 4,000 students at her son’s former high school and 1,400 at her daughter’s school.

“Ensuring that every student has a strong educational foundation so that they can reach any dream they may have in the future starts in elementary school,” said Gualtieri. “Balancing the different learning styles, needs and diversity within the school community, I was able to learn a great deal, especially about issues and concerns that I was not aware of initially. I feel that this experience has allowed me to grow as an educator and in my scope of supporting education for everyone.”

Gualtieri noted that the education provided at Adams School is unique and provides students with an opportunity to take advantage of small class sizes and individualized efforts from teachers to bring out the best in each student.

“If you look at GSA and their two National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists,they are both Adams School alumni. That speaks volumes about the hands-on, tailored learning that is allowed at the Adams School,” she said. “[The school] gave my daughter back her love of learning and enjoyment of school which she started to lose in New York City. The opportunity to serve on the school board is a small way to say thank you to the community.”

Jake Simmons

Jake Simmons has four daughters attending Adams School and says that conversations surrounding the school are a “big presence” in his house on a daily basis. As a mathematics teacher at Maine Maritime Academy, he said he sees subtle issues that affect students yearly.

“I figure that if I’m going to have strong opinions about education, I should offer to serve on the school board to address them directly instead of expecting others to do my bidding,” said Simmons.

Simmons’s background is in math, engineering and science, all things he said are central to the modern push for technological literacy.

“I have an understanding of those topics, and more importantly the educational needs of students interested in these topics from the beginning to the end of their academic lives,” he said. “I have been a part of the Adams school community for over six years now and I feel like I have a good grasp of the needs and struggles of the school.”

Simmons said that should he be elected to the school board, one of the most important roles for him and his cohort would be to continue to search for and hire the most qualified teachers, make sure the facilities are operating sufficiently, and provide adequate resources for the teachers.

“It takes a lot of energy to teach effectively and motivate students to learn. The more support we can provide, the more we can expect in the classroom,” he said.

While Simmons credits small class sizes as a positive thing at Adams School, he also said that it can provide its own set of issues.

“It’s hard to plan the logistics of a classroom with 15 kids one year and four kids the next. It’s also hard to handle curriculum when some years all the students are roughly comparably skilled and some years we have both remedial and advanced needs in the classroom,” he said.

Polls will be open on Election Day, November 5, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Kelly Gualtieri

Kelly Gualtieri.

Photo by Monique Labbe
Jake Simmons

Jake Simmons.

Photo by Monique Labbe